May 22, 2007 4:02pm
Re: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions
this might at least get you on track. good luck!
BAND Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions
VENUE The Tangent
CITY Palo Alto
SET1 Overseas Stomp ; Ain't It Crazy ; Boo Break ; Yes She Do, No She Don't ; Memphis ; Boodle Am Shake ; Big Fat Woman ; Borneo ; My Gal ; Shake That Thing ; Beat It on Down the Line ; Cocaine Habit Blues ; Beedle Um Bum ; On the Road Again ; The Monkey and the Engineer ; In the Jailhouse Now ; Crazy Words, Crazy Tune ; Band Interview
COMMENTS As of 3/99: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions (GDCD 4064)
Grateful Dead Records is delighted to call your attention to the recorded debut (a mere thirty-five years late) of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.
Yep, you read right! What we have here amounts to the Rosetta Stone of Grateful Dead tape archaeology - a complete July, 1964 performance by the ragtag little jug band that, despite its fairly short life span, served a rather large function in musical history, as it represented the very first collaboration between future members of the Dead (Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir and Pigpen).
Almost no one knew these tapes even existed, and those who did feared that they might be lost. Some collectors had a couple of songs from this performance on tape, from a 1969 radio documentary, but that was it.
Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions ("McCree" being just one of the many different ways the band spelled its name - out of sheer prankishness, they spelled it differently at every gig) was formed in early 1964 in Palo Alto, California in the midst of the Great Folk Revival. The band played for most of its brief lifespan at coffee houses and clubs frequented by members of the Stanford University community. Less than a year the jug band had evolved into an electric blues band called The Warlocks, which in turn changed its name to Grateful Dead, and you know the rest of that story!
One of the jug band's shows at a popular local spot was featured on an installment of Live at the Top of the Tangent, a program on the Stanford radio station KZSU, hosted and produced by an undergraduate named Pete Wanger. Some five years later, after the Grateful Dead had become something of a household name in the San Francisco rock scene, Pete's brother Michael included two songs from that live Tangent broadcast on a documentary about the Dead, broadcast on the trailblazing San Francisco station KSAN. And that, it was thought, was the last we'd ever hear of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.
But Michael Wanger was a man with a mission. He knew that there was more of this music out there, and he wanted to find it. Wanger remembers that "I badgered my brother about the tapes but he could not remember what he'd done with them. In 1994 or '95, Vance, my partner on the Grateful Dead documentary,
found a partial tape (containing ten songs) in his garage. It was the master that I was after." In 1997, fate intervened: "After our mother passed away," Michael recalls, "Peter and I were clearing things out of her house, and stashed away in the attic was a box containing all of the 'Top of the Tangent' tapes. Sure enough, the Mother McCree's stuff was there, in excellent condition* and with songs that weren't on any of the other tapes I'd found."
In fact, Wanger wound up with 16 songs, and the long-lost Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions album became a reality at last, with an assist from the digital mastering and editing ninjas of Club Front.
And the results are quite delightful - the performance is the very epitome of the expression "ragged but right," and the overall feeling of goofy joy in the music is quite irresistible. You can definitely hear the ancestral roots of the Grateful Dead here - several of the songs ("Ain't It Crazy," "Beat It On Down The Line," "On The Road Again" and "The Monkey and the Engineer") found their way into the Dead's rotation, as did other tunes from the jug band days ("Viola Lee Blues," "New Minglewood Blues") that were not played that night at the Tangent.
"Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions" is, of course, an absolute must for any serious scholar of Grateful Dead music. But you don't have to be all that serious to enjoy it. Bob Weir says it all when he sums up the jug band's original intent: "We just set out to have one hell of a good time. And we did."
Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions is available by Mail Order Only from Grateful Dead Merchandising (1-800-CAL-DEAD). The price is $12.00 (plus shipping and handling - California residents add 7.25% sales tax).
Grateful Dead Art & Photo Gallery for the poster art!
Michael Wanger's Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions web page!
RECORDINGS Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions (GDCD 4064)
CONTRIBUTORS Grateful Dead Merchandising, Michael Wanger, Teddy GoodBear.
BAND Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions
VENUE The Tangent
CITY Palo Alto
SET1 I'm Satisfied [1:45], The Rub [1:19]
COMMENTS (As of 3/99, see above '07/??/64' for complete update to this entry). Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
Based on the web page of Michael Wanger [the person who recorded this show] the entry should be:
DAed [1:53] (3) ; Memphis, Tennessee [2:20] (4) ; My Big Fat Woman [2:27] (5) ; Borneo [2:00] (6) ; Beat It on Down the Line [2:40] (7) ; Cocaine Habit Blues [3:07] (8) ; Beedle Um Bum [2:31] ; On the Road Again [2:48] (9)
-- Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions: Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (1) vocals: Jerry with Bob; Pigpen, harmonica (2) Pigpen, vocal & harmonica (3) Jerry vocals (4) Jerry vocals; Pigpen harmonica (5) Bob vocals (6) Jerry & Bob vocals (7) unknown guest with Jerry and Bob (8) Jerry vocals, Pigpen harmonica (9) Jerry vocals, Pigpen harmonica.
-- From Wanger/Frost 6/8/69 GD Documentary release. Announcer, Wanger/Frost?:
They called themselves "Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions", and played at the Tangent throughout the summer of 1964.
I'm Satisfied with My Gal. - summer '64? (noted by Michael Wanger in email to Teddy GoodBear)
Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions borrowed heavally from the Jim Kweskin Band, 'borrowed?, you mean stoled'!
Talks about blues influences ("Mr. Pig Pen") that lead to playing electric.
The Rub.- summer '64? (noted by Michael Wanger in email to Teddy GoodBear)
Bob Weir: Goes on to talk about Pigpen:
After being a jug band for over a year Jerry & Bob go on to talk about playing electric, "...to play louder...".
They picked up 2 more local musicians:
Dan Morgan Jr. - bass
Bill Sommers - who taught drums at the store
The Warlocks were formed. They became weird when they started working in bars. Phil Lesh replaces Dana during the bar room days.
RECORDINGS 10 FM-AUD. Audience recording, possibly from mics placed on stage. Date of recording is either July 16, 17 or 18, 1964. Circulating tapes of I'm Satisfied, Boo Break and The Rub (in that order) are from an FM broadcast of an audio documentary on the Grateful Dead produced by Michael Wanger and Vance Frost for Golden State Recorders broadcast on June 8, 1969. This 120-minute program also includes some early Grateful Dead live recordings, but no live Warlocks material. Circulating tapes of these two songs are from an FM broadcast of an audio documentary on the Grateful Dead produced by Michael Wanger and Vance Frost for Golden State Recorders sometime in late 1968 or early 1969. This 120-minute program also includes some early Grateful Dead live recordings, but no live Warlocks material.